Local Spartan breaks course record at the largest stage


Jackie Jordan-Ramaraju

Nikhil Ramaraju, Charles Boldt, and coach Jamie Whalen (pictured left to right) stand at the Head of the Charles podium on October 23, 2022

Pranav Suresh, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Crew, the infamous Charles, and a couple of course records.

The local Y Quad Cities rowing team is a known perennial powerhouse to those who follow the niche sport of crew, and the recent class of rowers don’t plan on breaking this astounding trend. Most recently, the club traveled to Boston to participate in the prestigious Head of the Charles, and they did not disappoint.

The Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR) kicked off its 67th annual competition. Hosted by Harvard University, the Head of the Charles is known for the bridges on the course. The Charles perfectly delineates Boston and Cambridge, easily viewable for spectators. One of the world’s biggest rowing competitions, it annually garners upwards of 400,000 spectators and 2,400 competitors.

In one of the sport’s biggest stages, Senior Nikhil Ramaraju rewrote history.

On Oct. 23, three days after his 18th birthday, Ramaraju broke the youth double record for the prestigious course.

Saddled with Charles Boldt of Indianapolis, the duo navigated the snaking Bostonian course. Ramaraju sat steady at the start line, confident in the countless hours he poured into training for that moment. However, he had no idea just how fast he could be. 5000 meters and 16:40 later, the duo were HOCR champions, shattering the previous record by 12 seconds.

To Ramaraju, his success as a rower never felt real. “It is impossible to see myself as accomplished and it is cool to see the actual rewards come to fruition at a stage as big as the [Head of The] Charles”. Rowing requires both time and sacrifice, and it has paid off. “ To see my name up at the same level as many other greats and truly see the results of the discipline I’ve put into rowing is super rewarding. We [Y Quad Cities] are often known for our juggernaut girls’ teams, but it was great to see us hold both womens’ and mens’ now,” Ramaraju concluded. 

Ramaraju’s year has been remarkable. Last July, Ramaraju represented the United States alongside the now-Syracuse rower Tristan Wakefield at the Youth Worlds championship in Varese, Italy. They reached the semi-finals.

Yet, this is not the end of the road for Ramaraju. Although coming off a win at one of the biggest stages, Ramaraju never lets off the gas, to which he largely attributes his success.

Getting scouted by multiple high-profile universities, Ramaraju’s plans to grind out the mentally grueling indoor erg season when it’s too cold to row out on the water, cranking 20 hours of machine work a week. Wherever Ramaraju ends up rowing, he will carry the grit that has led him to the top.

Whether it’s the mighty Mississippi, Italy or Boston, Ramaraju continues to show outstanding results through his commitment and dedication. As Ramaraju heaves to whatever finish line is next, he knows  he will strap into every boat as a Head of the Charles champion.